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OPINION

Yes, Rachel Dolezal Is Black

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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This week, Rachel Dolezal, the former local head of the Spokane NAACP, a lecturer in Africana studies at Eastern Washington University, and a proud black woman, was revealed to be a non-proud white woman. She lied about her personal history: She said her parents whipped her when they lived in South Africa, that she underwent rape and physical abuse, that the KKK targeted her with swastikas and nooses. No evidence exists to support any of this. Her parents point out that Dolezal has no black ancestry, and grew up in a Montana home as the child of two white parents.

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Nonetheless, Dolezal insists she is black. "I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon, and black curly hair," she said to Today. "It's a little more complex than me identifying as black or answering a question of, are you black or white?"

Just two weeks ago, the world went gaga over Bruce Jenner's transformation into Caitlyn Jenner; the left passionately insisted that Jenner's genetics, hormones and penis did not mean he could not be a woman. The president of the United States felt the need to tweet out his support for Jenner, stating, "It takes courage to share your story." Anyone who abided by the antiquated notion that biological sex exists was treated as a Neanderthal holdover.

Now, however, the left insists that Rachel Dolezal is not black. On June 9, The Daily Beast headlined, "Caitlyn Jenner Is Pissing Off Feminists and Bigots -- Good for Her." Three days later, The Daily Beast headlined, "BREAKING: NAACP 'Stands Behind' Fake Black Woman." The left insists on preserving non-biological, illegitimate racial barriers because they exploit those racial barriers for political gain; the left insists on destroying biologically based sexual differences because they wish to overthrow all established sexual mores.

So what distinguishes Jenner from Dolezal? On what basis can we reject Dolezal's blackness, given that the left has now redefined objective reality as self-definition? If you want to be a woman, you are a woman. If you want to be black, why can't you be black?

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Nick Gillespie of Reason magazine makes the odd argument that Jenner had transformed into a woman because Jenner sincerely believes that he has transformed into a woman, whereas Dolezal had fraudulently lied about her race for gain. Now that Dolezal has averred her sincerity, presumably she is black.

Or perhaps there is some objective measure of race? But that, too, fails on the merits: Sex is significantly more biological than race, and it is significantly more significant than race. Skin color is surely biological, but the relevance of race is purely sociological, as even those on the left acknowledge. As Ian Haney Lopez of U.C. Berkeley writes, biology "refutes the supposition that racial divisions reflect fundamental genetic differences." Black people have black skin, but how black must your skin be for you to be legitimately black? In the Old South, one drop of black blood made you black, and therefore fit for discrimination. But that was a racist societal distinction, not a biologically based one. As Rachel Dolezal puts it, if you go far back enough, "we're all from the African continent."

Perhaps race is a societal construct and can change, but society must uphold racial differences for some greater goal? But that would be pure racism: The goal of fighting racism would be to alleviate racial distinctions, which have no behavioral basis, despite the musings of the would-be comedians at #AskRachelDolezal.

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And so we come to this inescapable conclusion: By the left's standards, Rachel Dolezal is black. She can choose her race, just as Bruce Jenner can choose his sex. And she didn't choose. She always felt that way. After all, no one would choose to be black, just as no one would choose to be gay -- blacks are so put upon in American society that no one would fake being black for, say, the benefits of employment or mainstream leftist celebration.

Perhaps we can all learn from Rachel Dolezal: Race doesn't matter. Except that it does for people like Rachel Dolezal, which is why she went black. Rachel Dolezal is a poster child for the deconstructionist, victim-manufacturing left. But now she's learning: Once you go black, the left will make you go back.

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